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How HR can Combat Workplace Depression

Workplaces are full of different types of people, and even the most determined professional’s performance can be affected by his or her health. As an HR expert, you will get to help people work through very difficult times, and you’ll have a unique view into the mental health of whatever organization you serve. You will deal with depression no matter where you work.

Being compassionate and understanding is just as important as defending the company you serve by upholding standards. That can be a difficult line to walk when you’re dealing with mental health issues in your workforce. The good news is, there are things you can do to make the workplace do some of the heavy lifting on its own. You don’t have to be the only solution.

What Does Depression Look Like in the Workplace? 

Everyone experiences depression differently, but it can be anything from temporary low spirits to life-threatening thoughts and behaviors that make functioning impossible. Here are some behaviors you’ll often see in a depressed employee:

  • Tardiness.T Depression can make it very difficult to complete tasks, including things that seem easy and simple, like getting to work on time.
  • Brittleness. A depressed employee may get frustrated easily, act irritable, or show an uncharacteristic inability to make decisions.
  • Standoffish behavior. Depression often makes people retreat into themselves, resulting in reluctance to discuss feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.This behavior is often misinterpreted as unprofessionalism or laziness.

Keep in mind that the workplace can cause or worsen depression. Life events, medication, lack of sleep, stress, and physical conditions may cause depression, but the workplace can bring long hours, difficult situations and people, and unreasonable goals that make depression that much worse. As an HR professional, it is important to do whatever you can reasonably do to ensure that the workplace doesn’t exacerbate mental issues.

What Does a Mentally-Healthy Workplace Look Like?

The truth is, people struggling with mental issues have valuable contributions to make to your company, and if they’re coming in every day (maybe late), you can be sure they want to do their part.  They want to do a good job. If you are proactive about the mental health of your entire staff whether they are troubled or not, you can keep your organization stronger as a whole. Mentally-well employees mean a company with the ability to reach its potential.

Here are three ways that employers can support their companies’ wellbeing:

  1. Supporting employees struggling with mental health issues
    1. Promoting the wellbeing of the whole staff
      1. Combating common work-related mental health issues

      How Can HR Help? 

      Whether an employee is currently in work, off work, or returning to work, HR plays a vital role in his or her life. One of the best things you can do as an HR professional is foster an open dialogue between yourself and the employees. When employees feel alone and trapped in the workplace, things can only get worse. HR is uniquely positioned to address this issue.

      The good news here is that helping mitigate depression in the workplace doesn’t take hugely complex strategies. All it really takes is common sense.

      • Avoid assumptions. It is too easy to to jump to conclusions about an employee’s condition and how its symptoms might affect performance. In general, many people can manage their symptoms and maintain high standards.
        • emain flexible. Because mental health issues impact people in different ways and at different times, you can make yourself effective by adapting your support to each individual. Personalized action plans make the biggest difference.
          • Maintain confidentiality. When an employee confides in you, you cannot just pass the information on. Only do so when it is necessary.
            • Keep things open. You can create an open environment that makes people feel safe enough to share. Focus on the issue, not the person, and ask lots of questions.

            Turn to #1 HR Expert

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